Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I've been going to counseling for more than half my life now, with several breaks of a few years duration. Let's see....I went a few times at age 9 and 10 to the guidance counselor, generally because I'd freak out during movies/presentations about sexual abuse. Which they though I just was scared of, I think. Then consistently from 14 until 17 with someone through children's "protective" services. Then from 18-22 with maybe a year off in there while I grew up a little. (Really. I was a brat the first year and had to gain some maturity to do more than sit there and see if I could win control and prove I didn't need to be there. I lost). There was a period in there where it was incredibly high intensity as we met 4 times/week for 90 minutes at a clip. I didn't talk much then in therapy, I wrote out what I had to say and let the therapist read it, then discuss, so I also devoted a lot of time to it outside of that time. It was so intense (and I was so messed up) that I cut my courseload to a bare minimum of hours, focusing on easy classes and mainly abdicated from my role as president of 2 organizations for a several month period). Counseling was what I did then. From 22-24 it was off and on as I tried many therapists and clicked with none of them. From 24-26 I refused to try because I'd had so many bad experiences. And then it's been continuous and intense from 26-34 at the same place, with 2 different therapists. During those almost 8 years there have been many months of bi-weekly sessions, sometimes because of my illness level, sometimes to let me adjust to new therapists/say good-bye to an old one, and sometimes because of how intense things were.

In all those thousands of hours of therapy I've had some intense sessions. I've learned that some sessions are going to make me want to do nothing but sleep as I process. Some make me angry and needing to DO something. Some make me think, sometimes practically non-stop from the time I leave until I return. It used to be that I would often go an extra time on those times, but now I try not to.

Dr. Mind and I have settled into a routine over the years. I'll bring something up as a "big" topic and we'll talk about that for the next number of months. Generally during those times most sessions are 95% or more about that topic and I eventually come out better than I went in to it, although I always go in to it hating the start because I know it will be hard. Dr. Mind has an important job in these times which I believe we discussed long ago, or else he figured out quickly: I'm allowed to determine if I need to talk about something. I can say "I need a break this week" or "we need to talk about this instead" and we do that. But for the most part during these times he keeps me from wandering off topic to avoid painful discussions. During periods like right now he will make sure to start guiding me onto the topic within the first few minutes. This is because it can be hard for me to bring something back up. So when we start something big we always talk about "do we need to keep talking about this" and do I want to initiate it when I'm ready or should he.

After a big topic we take some weeks or even a couple months and stick to simpler stuff, going back to the big thing and weaning towards something else gradually. I can't do intense 100% of the time, and I don't think that it would be good to try. Nor is it reasonable given my fluctuating mental condition.

This last year has been a bit different in the pattern. We went from intense through last spring to kind of in and out intense and then I lost my job. (I was fired in July for those catching up. The company refused to give a single reason. It had clearly been in the works for weeks, as they'd arranged coverage for Sunday at least a month before, and equally obviously my assistants knew before I did.) At that point it was survival mode time for a couple weeks, then I got the new job and we worked on the adjustment. When Ohio had the highest unemployment rate in the country and was making headlines (12% I think), I was one of those people. Soon after I started the new job we went into a new topic that was quite difficult. We did that for about 2 months and then didn't get to finish because the entire coming off my antidepressant, preparing for the hospital, suicide watch thing began. We went to bi-weekly during that time for monitoring, and then stayed bi-weekly until mid-January, until I was really adjusted to the meds and feeling better. Since I felt better we've kind of been floating, and working on my adjusting to feeling normal for the first time in my memory really. Then a few weeks ago it was time to start talking about my history of sexual abuse, a topic that was made clearly off limits in something like our first session until I brought it up.

I've been doing incredibly well with this. Dr. Mind keeps asking about nightmares, and I told him today that I had one or two but didn't even remember them, just that I thought I should remember to say yes, I had one. He reminded me that in the past every time I have gone near this (or other difficult) topic I have had daily, vivid nightmares. This time I'm doing so well even my PTSD seems to be relaxing. In fact it's relaxing enough for me to realize that it DOES have a significant role in my life; I've always known I had it but I didn't like to talk about it or acknowledge that it made things difficult too.

Today though was tough. I'm still processing the conversation and I don't want to go into it too much yet, but what I think happened was that I went in ready to talk about one thing and it was related to something that Dr. Mind has been waiting for me to come near so we could talk more about it. And then it got even more intense than he was planning for. I know this because the last 20 minutes of my session, which I'm fairly sure went pretty long but I don't even know, had me in tears and him not far off I don't think. I know that after I left he was gathering himself before going to his next appt., which is unusual for him when he gets off his schedule.

The thing is, he's asking me to try to do something. Something I don't know how to do. I'm supposed to try writing it. But it's just so hard. I have a feeling I'll be writing "why I can't do what you're asking yet" first. Which is ok, because it lets me move toward what I do need to do. It's just so very hard, and so not even remotely clear to me what step one is. (That thing is to forgive someone. Or forgive a situation because it was that which was bad, not really the person.)

I guess fortunately (?) I'll have lots of time to think. I cleaned my oven today and it heated the house up horribly. It is so hot in here that I still have windows open and am sweating. Sleep won't come easily between that and the agitation. Unfortunately my cat woke up at 3:30 and I've only had a 2 hour nap since.

I guess so much for a carefree vacation....


Julia said...

I hope, I hope...that the next step goes as well as it can (?)...thinking of you on your ever-evolving journey.

Michal Ann said...

What hopeful news. It seems like you're moving at "lightning speed" now. Dr. Mind sounds wonderful.

BTW, I think you mean your appointments are sometimes twice a week. I looked up the word "bi-weekly" to make sure of the meaning and guess what I found? Clear as mud! :)

4.every two weeks.
5.twice a week.

I know both you and Dr. Mind are talking to the Lord. What a blessing in the midst of the hard work you continue to do.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Psalm 27: 7,8